South America Blog Posts

Week 16 – Caranavi to San Borja with some new friends

After I arrived in Caranavi, I took a couple of rest days to sort out a few things I needed to do. Firstly, I needed to fix my gears as they had been playing up since the ‘Death Road’. But I also needed to do my usual weekly blog and vlog posts. Luckily the gears were an easy fix. The front gears were just jammed by a bit of grit in the mechanism. But I actually took the time to watch some YouTube videos and learned how to adjust the gears on the front and back. They aren’t set up perfectly, but they are much better than they were.

Meeting New Friends

I have also been having some problems with my center stand. It keeps coming loose with the vibrations on the rough road surfaces. So I needed to buy a hex key big enough to fit. When I was walking back to my hotel, I noticed two touring bicycles locked up in the lobby of a hotel across the street. I went in and asked if they belonged to some tourists, they did, but they were out in town. So the next time I went out of the hotel, I called in again and asked if they were back. This is how I met the French couple, Lea and Armand. We had breakfast together the next day and it turned out that they were heading the same direction as I was. We agreed that we would share the road for a while.

Some Great Camping

I had hoped that coming down the ‘Death Road’ would take me out of the mountains. While it did bring me down a lot of altitude, there were still a lot of mountains still to cover. We headed out of Caranavi and we realised that we would be passing over a mountain pretty much every day of the next week. We didn’t hit a mountain every day though. We took some rest days along the way. We also had some great camping spots beside rivers and waterfalls. It was really nice to travel with Lea and Armand. It gave me motivation to push over some mountain roads, but also camping with some new people was a lot of fun. There were two camp spots that were particularly good. The first was next to someone’s house in a mountain village. The guy who owned the house was a musician and he played some music for us. Then I played his guitar while he played his local instruments. He taught me a traditional Bolivian rhythm on guitar. It was a lot of fun and completely unexpected. In the morning we also met his 96 year old mother. The second great spot was next to the river in Sapecho. We swam in the river and I took the opportunity to take a bath and wash my clothes in the river.

Clearing the Andes

The road north was sometimes beautiful and sometimes terrible. The road surface was sometimes smooth and good condition, then it would just stop and we would find ourselves going over rocky roads. I think it would have taken me a lot longer to follow this route if I had been alone. Not that I felt rushed, but being with other people can give you that little extra motivation to keep pushing up the hill rather than stop. It took us almost a whole week to finally get out of the Andes and onto the flat plains of the Bolivian Amazon region. It feels so good to be able to cycle so easily on the roads, even if they are in bad condition. As the week came to a close, we arrived in a town called San Borja. This was our last stop together. Lea and Armand would be heading east to Trinidad while I would be heading North towards Cobija and the Brazilian border. But we all decided to stay in town for a few rest days before we separated.

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